The Opening Night of FEFF 23 kicks off with spy story Cliff Walkers

64 films from 11 Asian countries in Udine and online

Zhang Yimou had always dreamed of directing an espionage movie, and luckily for us, dreams do sometimes come true... So on Thursday the 24th of June it will be the gripping and elegant Cliff Walkers that kicks off the Opening Night of the Far East Film Festival 23: secret agents, plots and the odd hint of melodrama in this breathtaking mission in 1930s China! A fantastic International Festival Premiere which, at 21.45, will be officially inaugurating the brand new outdoor Arena built for the FEFF on the lawn of the Visionario: 400 seats and a giant screen measuring 12 by 5 meters.

The official slogan of this twenty-third edition is “Moving forward” - two simple words that capture perfectly the meaning behind the line-up: An immense explosion of creativity (8 world premieres, 10 international premieres, 22 European premieres and 20 Italian premieres) and geography (Japan, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia and new entries Macao and Myanmar) whose genre movies show us the popular cinema of the Far East. A cinema that never gives up!

FEFF 23 sees the grand return of an in-the-flesh festival, not only as regards the screenings but also as regards the Far East Film Events (more than 50 of which will transform the city centre into a brightly-coloured Asian zone!), but the digital experience of 2020 will be mirrored in the digital experience of 2021: the Festival, in fact, will also be going live online on the platform managed with the technical support of MYmovies, and on Thursday the 24th of June the starting gun will be a (literally) explosive action thriller – we're talking, obviously, about Herman Yau's Shock Wave 2, featuring superstar Andy Lau.

And alongside the FEFF, with the support of its main sponsors Amga Energia & Servizi (the commercial brand of the Hera Group) and CrediFriuli, there'll of course be the FEFF Campus, the journalism school for young Asian and Western talents headed by industry veteran Mathew Scott (which this year will be held online). From the 30th of June to the 2nd of July there'll also be Ties That Bind, the Asia-Europe co-production workshop, and Focus Asia, the industry section of the festival, with the Far East in Progress section (the first and only European platform dedicated to Asian films in post-production), the new Second-Hand Market section, the Project Market and a packed programme of webinars.

With its premieres, live streaming sessions with guests (a live broadcast is scheduled for each morning from 10.30 on the FEFF Facebook page) and special sections, the Far East Film Festival 23 is ready to begin its journey to the East. A journey that graphic designer Roberto Rosolin personifies in this year's official image: a girl behind the wheel of an old Volvo, leaving everything behind her and moving on. Moving forward. From the darkness to the dawn.